And now we’re learning the rest of the story. Reportedly.
Just a short time ago, multiple media outlets reported that Florida had overcome Jim McElwain‘s $7.5 million buyout hurdle and tapped the Colorado State head coach for the same job at UF. The Gators subsequently confirmed McElwain’s hiring via social media, with an introductory press conference scheduled for Saturday.
The university also confirmed that McElwain’s contract is six years in length and will average $3.5 million annually. In 2014, McElwain earned $1.5 million in total pay.
What wasn’t known was whether the $7.5 million buyout, which had reportedly been the sticking point in the talks, was paid in full by UF or negotiated down. As it turns out, it was the latter.
The school announced that it essentially has its new head football coach on the installment plan as it will pay CSU a total of $3 million over the next six years, while the Gators’ new coach will be responsible for paying another $2 million. Finally, the Gators have guaranteed the Rams $2 million for a future game in Gainesville.
On the surface, it would seem to be a very significant win for Florida… and Colorado State as well.
Not only does UF “save” $2.5 million, but the athletic department avoids paying the entire $3 million it does owe upfront and at least partially into the future, with a portion of that presumably being paid after the SEC Network spigot begins to flow in earnest. Additionally, they didn’t have to “buy” themselves a head coach by, as had been rumored, scheduling a road game in Fort Collins.
For CSU, they were going to lose their head coach regardless if a high-profile program really wanted him, so getting the $5 million from two parties plus the exposure that a game in Gainesville could potentially bring on the recruiting front in talent-rich Florida serves as a win-win. Not only that, but getting a $2 million guarantee game is not exactly something to scoff at for a Group of Five program.
Just when that UF-CSU game in The Swamp will go off is unknown, though. The Gators’ 2015 out-of-conference schedule is already full, while they have one opening each in 2016 and 2017. The Rams, though, have a non-conference slate that’s full through 2016. The first available dates would be 2017, although they already have games at Alabama and at Colorado scheduled for that season.
Therefore, barring a reshuffling of things on CSU’s part, 2018 might be the first season a Rams-Gators game could realistically be scheduled.
Incidentally, McElwain did meet with his players for roughly 10 minutes to inform them personally that he was taking the Florida job. Unfortunately, giving how fast the news cycle spins these days, especially with social media, most had already found out via other means.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley released a statement addressing his latest hire and explaining, in part, the process that brought McElwain to Gainesville.